Drag queens have had a turbulent relationship with Facebook as of late, most notably the real-name controversy resulting in many performers losing the ability to use their drag names on the site, along with the company’s questionable “fixes” to the problems that policy created.
Now, the St. Louis LGBT community is in an uproar after Facebook repeatedly refused to pull the posts of a local man accusing a beloved entertainer of having AIDS. The man, who is banned from every drag bar in town, is also operating a bogus fan page to defame and harass the two entertainers in his crosshairs.
The twisted saga of the man’s fixation with entertainers Jade Sinclair and Janessa Highland can be found here, but after driving over a hundred miles to watch to two perform, the man, who identifies as heterosexual, became obsessed with ruining them any way possible. This includes trying to get them fired from jobs through online trolling, spreading rumors involving venues closing and health code violations, making claims about HIV status, threatening to bring a knife to the club and, bizarrely, vowing to become a drag queen himself — some sort of superior, evil twin of Highland.
Here are a few examples of statuses reported dozens of times, but deemed acceptable by Facebook:
Darin Slyman, CEO of Vital Voice Magazine, the state’s largest and oldest LGBT publication, had the following to say when reached at his branch office in Kansas City.
It’s baffling and unacceptable that Facebook refuses to take action against this abusive behavior, but it has been great to see the way the community has rallied to support these entertainers.
Falsely accusing someone of having AIDS and creating a page solely for harassment is disgusting that it doesn’t violate community standards. Would it be the same result if someone made a harassment page for Mark Zuckerberg claiming he has AIDS? If so I know some people who would be happy to start one.
For Sinclair and Highland, their Facebook-sanctioned harassment shows no signs of stopping.
But trolling is the least of their concerns at the moment. Although he’s banned from venues for his abusive behavior and threats of approaching the stage with a knife, Pedersen posted an update suggesting he was in the audience of a recent show.
Two main critiques of Facebook have been that they’re a nanny state and that their policies are arbitrarily enforced, but after rejecting demands that Pedersen, his fan page or even individual posts be removed, it seems the nanny is off somewhere hitting a pipe.